As I watch my timeline excited for the next school year, I am somewhat grieving. I fell in love with teaching. I enjoyed teaching students how to code and empowering them to generate money online. I enjoyed being a person my students felt safe with and a listening ear. As the new school year is approaching, I am reflecting on my school years and how it impacts my advocacy work.

When I was teaching, I watched children bully one another and it impacted me deeply. Growing up, I was bullied because I did not “fit in”. My parents worked hard to remove me from toxic environments not realizing that my own house was one. At school, I was bullied for my weight, my expansive vocabulary, and free spirit. I just wanted to be myself but it was difficult for me. It was easier to pretend. So I did, I wore a mask and even then I was bullied. I was called “oreo” by the black kids because I talked “white’. As an aside, what does that even mean? My own family said that I wasn’t black enough and when I moved to Florida I became white.

During this time, I went to therapy regarding my sexuality carrying my father’s hope that I could be “normal”. I prayed and wished I could be the daughter he wanted. I consistently punished myself even into adulthood and our relationship was built on a crumbling foundation. These experiences are toxic and I realize that our children still suffer from and deal with the same trauma I faced. This is why I enjoyed teaching and now advocacy. I am able to be the advocate that I needed when I was growing up.

When I posted my op-ed, I stepped in my truth and became a fearless advocate for my kids and other teachers. I was bullied online for speaking the truth and exposing the corruption that is in the education system. My sorority sisters contributed to the bullying by posting me in a group and calling me a quitter and said I didn’t care about my kids. My former employer proactively called the media and lied. Meanwhile, when white teachers write these types of pieces they are celebrated and featured on Good Morning America…but that is for another blog. Anyway, I was willing to take all of this, if it meant being a voice for students and teachers.

Our kids are suffering and are not able to reach their full potential. Systemic oppression is alive and well in the education system. Our students’ basic needs are not met and many of them are suffering from unresolved trauma. We have a serious problem happening in schools and I pray the ancestors to guide me for what’s next. My fight for children is deeper than many people originally thought. Our kids deserve so much better.

As for now, I will continue to share my truth and transparency. As school starts again, please talk to our children. Be intentional with your relationship with them. Please motivate our children to succeed. We need all hands on deck to change this around and that starts with the community.